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HB 91: General Provisions - Commemorative Days - National Healthcare Decisions Day

The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of House Bill 91. The Catholic Conference represents the public-policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

House Bill 91 (HB 91) would establish April 16 as the National Healthcare Decision Day. This bill would encourage citizens to proactively establish and communicate healthcare decisions according to their beliefs. 

As Catholics, we understand that life is a precious gift from God, and that we have a moral obligation to serve as its guardians; therefore, we support any efforts by the Assembly to encourage the public to proactively make healthcare decisions and plan for medical scenarios, so long as that planning does not include the State encouraging suicide. 

In keeping with these beliefs, the bishops of Maryland have jointly stated, “These decisions are best made when we have taken the time beforehand to think through our end-of-life directives, to allow the principles of our faith to guide these decisions, and to share and even document our directives with our loved ones. ” To encourage the faithful in making these decisions, the Church has implemented its own healthcare planning initiatives, designed to educate participants on the spiritual, legal, financial, and practical aspects associated with healthcare and end-of-life planning. These initiatives have been in place since 2007, and through them, the Church has facilitated many meaningful conversations and medical planning activities across the State. These conversations and activities have provided a sense of security, comfort, and peace to those who undertake them, because it helps to ensure that patients’ deeply-held beliefs will be upheld in the future, and establishes expectations for caretakers’ roles in the future.

It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference urges a favorable report for HB 91. Thank you for your consideration.

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Statement from the Catholic Bishops of Maryland. “End of Life Decision Making for the Faithful”. November 1, 2014.